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California woman charged with killing man over cat dispute

Hannah Star Esser, 20, is accused of fatally running over Luis Anthony Victor, 43, on Sept. 25. in Cypress. (Orange County District Attorney’s Office)

(KTLA) – A California woman has been charged with killing a man by ramming her car into him after accusing him of trying to run over a cat in the street, authorities said Wednesday.

Hannah Star Esser, 20, was charged with murder in the death of Victor Anthony Luis, 43, and detained on $1 million bail, the Orange County prosecutor’s office said in a statement.

Esser faces anywhere from 25 years to life in prison if convicted, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

Esser was driving in the community of Cypress on Sunday night when she confronted Luis and accused him of trying to run over a cat, authorities said.

She and Luis both got out of their vehicles and got into an argument that Esser recorded, authorities said.

In the video, Esser is heard yelling profanities at Luis while confronting him. According to officials, she eventually returned to her vehicle and, instead of driving away, made a three-point turn and drove straight towards Luis, striking him with the front of her car.

The impact launched Luis into the windshield and over the vehicle, and eventually landing on the street. 

He was pronounced dead at the scene.

“This action showed a complete disregard for human life,” said Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer. “The Orange County District Attorney’s Office will ensure that this random act of violence targeting a stranger will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Luis, a father of five daughters, was expecting his first grandchild this fall. He was killed in front of his apartment building and “died in his only brother’s arms,” said a statement issued on behalf of his family Wednesday.

“This senseless act of violence has robbed the world of a bright light who will never be forgotten,” the statement said, adding that a GoFundMe campaign has been established by his sister to pay for his funeral.

Esser was arrested Sunday and had an initial court appearance Tuesday, court records show. She is scheduled to be arraigned Oct. 13. An email message was sent to defense attorney Michael Morrison seeking comment.

Kimberly Edds, a spokesperson for the district attorney’s office, said it was not immediately clear whether a cat was actually involved. The crime is still being investigated, she said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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